Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Fine dining...... in FLEET

Recently Peroni ran a competition where you had to phone in with details from your pack for a chance to win a pop up restaurant in your home, with runners up prizes of hampers. Having only entered once, I was surprised and delighted to be the winner of the first draw back in November -  a chef to come to my home and create a real pop-up restaurant.

As it was my husband's birthday last weekend, we arranged to take the prize last week, and chef Mario Presi came to our house to create a very special dinner for two. He had already visited to help me plan the menu and this time he brought two helpers with him who set to to transform our dining room from this

to this

While they were creating the restaurant - having brought everything with them from candles to lighting, and  cutlery to music - Mario got to work in the kitchen. He was cooking constantly from when they arrived just after noon until late in the evening! My kitchen, which is quite used to seeing a lot of activity on a daily basis, had nevertheless never experienced anything like it. Every surface was covered in wonderful food and the finest ingredients.
Mario didn't mind when we popped in to ask questions or inspect unfamiliar ingredients, and was happy to let us take photographs.
The smells and sounds coming from the kitchen were very tantalising and neither my husband nor I got much work done that afternoon!
Eventually it was time for dinner and we settled down in the living room, which had also been transformed with a beautiful arrangement of flowers
Aperitivo were served by Olga, the waitress - chilled Peroni, of course, accompanied by Polenta and Sopressa Veneta, Rosemary Foccacia with Stracchino and Rocket and Slow Cooked Rabbit with Borlotti (Note- from this point onwards, we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take photos, so the remaining photos have been reproduced with kind permission of Mario Presi, who recorded each dish as it was ready to be served)

When these delicious morsels were finished, Olga escorted us through to the dining room. We hardly recognised it with the pictures softly spotlit and candles flickering on the table! Our amuse-bouche of Cauliflower and Saffron Fritter with Broad Bean Purée was brought next - this was one of my favourite dishes of the whole evening, along with the Slow Cooked Rabbit and the Pork Belly which came later.
After all this food, it was time for our starter! We had Busiate Pasta with Trapani Pesto - a Sicilian style pesto that included cherry tomatoes and almonds, making it completely different from the more familiar pesto Genovese
Different wines were served with every course - above you can see us enjoying a refreshing glass of prosecco before moving on to our main course of pork cooked three ways - Fritters of Pork Cheek, Saltimbocca  and Pork Belly, on a cauliflower puree with Marsala sauce. Herbed roasted potatoes and Chantenay carrots, and broccoli were served with this.



Finally, as I don't eat dessert, Mario had provided us with a platter of beautiful Italian cheeses which was served with a selection of fresh fruits and some delicious sesame crackers. And as well as coffee, he offered a selection of teas including my favourite after-dinner drink, fresh mint tea.

We'd had a wonderful "evening out" - with no worries about getting home afterwards, no irritation from other diners (why is the person at the next table always the one with the loudest voice?) and no stress about being rushed to make way for the next party. And a  wonderful meal at home with no cooking or washing up. The kitchen was left spotless and the fridge was so full of food that we made all our meals for the next two days from the leftovers.

Thank you to Peroni and everyone involved in running the competition for making this amazing experience possible, and to Mario and his helpers for turning the dream into reality. It was an evening we will remember forever.

3 comments:

  1. Wow! Now that was an an amazing prize to win and your article does it excellent justice.

    Thank you for that - a lovely read (feeling slightly peckish now, is there anything left in your fridge?).

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  2. Im enduring a lean spell patiently so enjoyed reading this article too .. a very special prize! the main course is making me drool!

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  3. Sounds like a really fun idea and promotion! Great way to get your business out there!

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